Jewish / Hebrew Courtship - Betrothal
There are two stages to the betrothal process. The first part is the "kiddushin," which is very similar to what we would call the engagement period. However, in the Jewish community this step basically communicates the couple is now husband and wife. The second part is the nisu'in. The nisu'in is where the couple goes under the "chupah" and communicate their nuptials. Betrothal is basically a contract between the two families and sealed with the exchange of gifts. Betrothal is the uniting of not just two people, but two families. The couple does not live together or experience consummation, they are simply promised to one another. All parties involved perceive the couple as husband and wife. An example of this would be Jacob and Rachel's seven year period. It was not until the seven years were completed that the two consummated the marriage. Upon consummation, the couple is considered officially married.
In the old covenant the Israelites made covenant with YHWH (God) through the Law of Moses. The Torah was essentially God's instruction book and covenant to a specific people He calls the apple of His eye.
Is the fullness of God and His people dwelling together. The Jews refer to this as the "messianic era" and believe this will be when relationship with God will become "tangible." This is where God dwells with mankind and mankind dwells with Him. Born again followers of Y'shua who have been baptized into the Holy Spirit, experience the indwelling right now. Believers are the temples of the Living God, where communion with YHWH has been restored, through the finished work of the cross and Y'shua the Jewish Messiah (Jesus Christ). The old covenant has been done away with and now the new covenant is established. Currently mankind only has a deposit of things to come, because believers are waiting for the fullness of the wedding supper of the Lamb!
The Bible is truly the greatest love story ever told. The Creator of Heaven and Earth left everything for humanity. He left all the wealth, comfort and exaltation, to come down to man's level and become dirt. Humans are nothing more than clay pots. The King of Glory, left it all behind for humanity. He left it all behind to restore His people from the curse of sin and death. He rescued mankind from the disobedience that took place back in the Garden of Eden. The only thing humanity needed to do was not eat of the tree of good and evil. Apparently, that command was too difficult. Adam and Eve could not obey. God’s children barely scratch the surface regarding the depth of beauty, character, nature and love, Y'shua has for them.
The analogy I think of, regarding Y'shua the Messiah dying and saving humanity, goes something along these lines. What He did for us would be similar to you or I choosing to become an ant, to save the ants, then remain an ant and marry all of the ants that chose to marry us. I mean think about it, becoming an ant is crazy! Why would I ever want to become an ant, to be with the ants forever? There is simply no way I would ever choose to become an ant. I wipe them up in my kitchen, crush them under my foot, without thinking twice. Maybe a better analogy would be a cockroach? For sure, there is no way I would ever dream of rescuing the cockroaches, let alone be married to one. Can you imagine? Yet this is a tiny comparison of Jesus' perspective towards us. WOW! We are so frail, weak and broken. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, all-merciful, all-gracious, and the list goes on. He became a man, for us!
There is a preparation period for the ceremony and celebration of the union. “Preparation” occurs within the betrothal period - kiddushin. The groom “prepares” a place for the two to live. The length of time varies based on contractual obligations and other details that need to occur prior to the celebration and consummation of the marriage union.
Customarily today, there is preparation for the wedding ceremony; wedding clothes picked out, invitations sent to the guests, marriage counseling, finding a place to live and all of the many details leading up to a new life together.
Right now the Bride of Christ is waiting for the Bridegroom (Y'shua a Jewish Man) to return from preparing a place, in the Father's house. The Bride is in the process of making herself ready for the return of the groom.
Celebration and Consummation
Once everything is prepared and ready, the bridegroom is released by his father to go and gather his bride to himself. Together they go to the celebration of the wedding feast. Once the ceremony is complete, the wedding feast continues while the couple goes into a special room, set apart for them, to consummate the marriage. It was of the utmost necessity to ensure that the woman be a virgin, as was laid out originally in the ketubah. The two become one flesh. They assume a new identity together. The couple has now become husband and wife.
In review, it is clear marriage is a matter of process, purpose and testing. When God's people follow His process, seek and trust Him, stability within households comes forth in tremendous strength and reality. Society is built upon family. The next blog will be discussing the ceremony in greater detail. Key elements will be identified necessary to establish marriage from both a biblical and a lawful perspective.